|Monday, September 28, 2015|
|September 28, 2015 Legislative Update|
N.C. General Assembly Adjournment: The End is in Sight
With the budget finalized and signed by the governor, the North Carolina General Assembly has turned its attention to adjournment. Last week, the Senate introduced an adjournment resolution, calling for the General Assembly to adjourn Tuesday, September 29, and reconvene Monday, April 25, 2016. The resolution passed the Senate and is expected to be heard by the House today.
The resolution, as passed by the Senate, would allow legislators to consider appropriations bills; constitutional amendment bills; bills that have crossed over from one chamber to the other; bills and resolutions that implement recommendations from study committees, authorities and statutory commissions; local bills; election law bills; and for the purpose of overriding a gubernatorial veto, among a variety of other topics, when they reconvene. The House may make modifications to the adjournment date, the date that the General Assembly reconvenes, or to what bills may be considered during the short session.
N.C. Governor Receives Economic Development Package
Last week, the conference report to House Bill 117 — NC Competes Act — was approved by both the North Carolina House and Senate. The Senate voted unanimously in a bipartisan vote to approve the legislation, and the governor is expected to sign the legislation.
The package contains changes to the Job Development and Investment Grant (JDIG) and OneNC programs, several changes to the tax code, and a section dealing with tax compliance and fraud prevention. The package does not address several tax credits, such as renewable energy and research and development, thereby they will sunset in January.
Local Government Proposals Move Forward
- Local Incentives for Historic Rehabilitation
The North Carolina House gave final approval to Senate Bill 472 — Local Incentives for Historic Rehabilitation. Under this legislation, local governments are given more flexibility in determining what projects qualify for local appropriations for economic development purposes. The legislation also extends a local government’s authority to make grants or loans for the rehabilitation of commercial or noncommercial historic structures, whether the structure is publically or privately owned. SB 472 was presented to the governor Thursday.
- County Studies
The North Carolina House passed Senate Bill 391 — County Omnibus Legislation — which will go to the Senate today for a concurrence vote. The bill reestablishes the State Payment in Lieu of Taxes Study Commission and directs several studies, including ways to control aquatic noxious weeds in state waters and the impact of exempting previously taxable property when acquired by a nonprofit. The legislation also clarifies requirements on local governments for the deposit of public money.
N.C. Governor McCrory Signs Medicaid Reform Into Law
The conference committee report for House Bill 372 — Medicaid Transformation and Reorganization — was approved by both the North Carolina House and Senate and signed into law by Governor McCrory. The conference report moves away from the state’s current fee-for-service system to a full-risk capitated system and a hybrid system that will include both provider-led entities (PLEs) and managed care organizations (MCOs).
The Senate voted 33-15, mostly along party lines, with two Democrats, Senator Ben Clark (D-Hoke) and Senator Floyd McKissick Jr. (D-Durham), joining with the Republicans. One Republican, Senator Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg), voted against the conference report. The House voted 65-40, again mostly along party lines. Only one Democrat, Representative George Graham (D-Lenoir), voted in favor of the conference report. Five Republicans voted against the conference report, one of which was a chair of the conference committee, Representative Nelson Dollar (R-Wake). Four of Representative Dollar’s Republican colleagues, Representative Pat Hurley (R-Randolph), Representative James Langdon Jr. (R-Johnston), Representative Michael Speciale (R-Craven) and Representative Paul Stam (R-Wake), joined him in voting no to the conference report.
Compromise on Regulatory Reform Act Unveiled
Late last week, the conference report for House Bill 765 — Regulatory Reform Act of 2015 — was unveiled, which is a compromise between the North Carolina House and Senate. Some highlights from the conference report include:
- Shifts the burden of proof in certain contested cases.
- Prohibits licensees from serving as investigators and inspectors on occupational licensing boards.
- Exempts small business entities buying or selling entity-owned property.
- Amends the definition of “employee” under the Workers’ Compensation Act to exclude volunteers and officers of certain nonprofits.
- Expands the good Samaritan law expansion to breaking into or out of railroad cars, motor vehicles, trailers, aircraft, boats or other watercrafts.
- Directs the Environmental Review Commission to study open and fair competition with respect to materials used in wastewater, storm water and other water projects.
- Creates two studies on: 1) electronic recycling programs, and 2) permitting and recycling programs for utility-scale solar projects.
- Amends the risk-based remediation statutes.
- Amends the definition for “prospective developer” under brownfields redevelopment.
- Makes amendments to isolated wetlands laws.
- Studies and amends storm water laws.
- Creates a study of flood elevations and building height requirements.
N.C. House Moves Amended Version of Farm Act
The North Carolina House voted 86-13 last week to give an initial approval to Senate Bill 513 — North Carolina Farm Act of 2015. The legislation makes various changes to transportation, environment and other laws in an effort to provide regulatory relief to the agriculture community. Just hours before taking a vote on second reading, the House removed a controversial deer farming provision that would have transferred the captive cervid program to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
N.C. House and Senate Pass Changes to Election Laws
The North Carolina House and Senate approved a conference report to House Bill 373 — Elections — which moves North Carolina’s primary date to March 15, 2016. The House narrowly supported the conference report, voting 52-49. The Senate voted to approve the report mostly along party lines, 30-13.
Under the new legislation, candidate filing begins December 1, 2015, and closes December 21, 2015. Political parties must submit presidential candidate lists by December 16, 2015. Early voting will begin March 3, 2016, and end March 12, 2016. The conference report also includes a controversial provision that allows for the establishment of affiliated party committees. The legislation permits the leader of each political party of the North Carolina House and Senate to establish a separate affiliated party committee to support the election of candidates of that leader’s political party. The legislation is permissive and does not require the establishment of the affiliated party committees.
|Thursday, September 24, 2015|
|September 24, 2015 Legislative Update|
The Charlotte Chamber applauds the North Carolina General Assembly and the governor for negotiating a compromise spending and economic development package. Thanks to strong efforts by Charlotte region legislators, Representative Bill Brawley and Representative Jason Saine, as well as Governor McCrory. Efforts to redistribute sales tax revenues were thwarted and the state’s economic development toolbox has been strengthened.
N.C. General Assembly and Governor Finalize State Budget
On Friday, after several months of negotiations, Governor McCrory signed the state budget legislation, the compromise spending plan of the North Carolina House and Senate. The Senate gave its approval of the budget bill Wednesday; the vote was mostly along party lines, with the exception of three Democrats: Senator Ben Clark (D-Hoke), Senator Jane Smith (D-Robeson) and Senator Erica Smith-Ingram (D-Northampton), voting in favor of the budget on its final reading. The House went into session at 5 p.m. Thursday, and debated the bill for five hours. In the end, nine Democrats voted with 71 Republicans in favor of the budget: Representative Gale Adcock (D-Wake), Representative William Brisson (D-Bladen), Representative Ken Goodman (D-Richmond), Representative Charles Graham (D-Robeson), Representative Susi Hamilton (R-New Hanover), Representative Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg), Representative William Richardson (D-Cumberland), Representative Ken Waddell (D-Columbus) and Representative Michael Wray (D-Northampton). Just after midnight Thursday, the House gave its final approval to House Bill 97 — 2015 Appropriations Act.
Review a summary of budget highlights from last week's newsletter.
Compromise Reached on Economic Development Package
Late last week, the final compromise to House Bill 117 — NC Competes Act — was unveiled. The conference report contains changes to the Job Development and Investment Grant (JDIG) and OneNC programs, several changes to the tax code, and a section dealing with tax compliance and fraud prevention. The package includes:
The JDIG program underwent the most modifications. Under the conference report, the program was given a three-year extension, changing the expiration from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2019. The conference report creates a new category of qualifying project called a high-yield (HY) project, which has an investment of at least $500 million in private funds and provides 1,750 jobs. The conference report allows the grant to be disbursed for 20 years, unless the project becomes disqualified, where the grant will terminate in the year the project becomes disqualified. Additionally, HB 117 will increase the state’s liability cap from $15 million to $20 million for a year in which no grant is awarded for a HY project, and $35 million for years that include a grant awarded to a HY project. The grant will be available in semiannual commitment limitations less than or equal to 50 percent. The conference report changes the disbursement for projects located in tier 2 counties, to allow only 10 percent of the grant to be diverted to the utility fund. It also modifies the percentage of withholdings to 80 percent for tier 1 counties and 75 percent for tiers 2 and 3. The grant will allow businesses that meet the HY requirements for three consecutive years to receive 100 percent of withholdings for each eligible job for the consecutive three years. Also, it adds a new requirement of local government participation in the recruitment and offer of incentives. It requires rejected offers to be published in a list.
The only change to OneNC is the matching formulas. Under the conference report, the state will match $3 to every $1 in local money for tier 1 counties, $2 to $1 for tier 2 counties, and $1 to $1 for tier 3 counties.
- Tax changes
The conference report provides a tax credit on electricity for datacenters with $75 million in private investment funds. Aircrafts weighing between 9,000 and 15,000 pounds receive a tax credit on jet fuel. Modular homes, aircrafts and jet engines are added under the privilege tax. The conference report exempts motor vehicle service contracts and motor sports parts and fuel from sales tax. The conference report also includes various changes impacting tax compliance and fraud prevention.
- Not Included
The conference report does not address the sunset of several tax credits, set to expire in this fiscal year, including renewables and the Research and Development tax credits.
HB 117 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate this evening and in the House later this week. The finance portion of the state’s budget, HB 97, is contingent on HB 117 becoming law before January 1, 2016.
N.C. House and Senate Pass Local Government Regulatory Reform Bill
The North Carolina House and Senate voted to approve a conference report to House Bill 44 — Local Government Regulatory Reform 2015. Highlights of the package include:
- Provides local governments different options for notice to chronic violators of overgrown vegetation ordinances.
- Authorizes cities to regulate uninhabitable structures that unreasonably restrict the public’s right to use the state’s ocean beaches.
- Prohibits local governments from requiring compliance with voluntary state rules and regulations or rules and regulations with a delayed effective date.
- Repeals the requirement that local governments comprising the local health department maintain operating appropriations from local ad valorem taxes.
- Provides developers of property located partly within the municipality options to 1) apply the county land use planning ordinances to the entire property or 2) apply the municipality’s ordinances to the portion within the municipality and the county ordinances to the rest of the property.
- Allows local governments to permit irrigation and drinking water wells.
- Limits fence wrapping signage to advertising sponsored by a person directly involved in the construction of the project.
- Removes exception for zoning permits from the Permit Choice statutes, NC Gen. Stat. § 143-755.
- Makes various changes to the Pre-audit Certification statutes, effective October 1, 2015.
- Limits local governments’ ability to regulate beehives.
- Requires notices to adjacent property owners prior to the start of any construction project, but limits the notice period to 15 days.
- Includes modifications to riparian buffer regulations.
- Requires zoning density ordinances to provide credits or severable development rights for dedicated right-of-ways.
- Makes various changes to inspections of buildings certified by licensed architects or licensed engineers.
- Clarifies local governments’ authority to define bedroom.
- Provides more flexibility to cities regarding development agreements.
The bill now goes to the governor for his consideration.
N.C. Senate Amends Employee Misclassification Bill
Last week, the North Carolina Senate signed off on its own version of Employee Misclassification Reform, House Bill 482. The Senate made substantial changes to the bill.
The Senate Committee Substitute for HB 482 (SCS) requires the advisory council to meet at least quarterly. The Senate modified the House bill by creating a new appeal process for the employer within the Industrial Commission. It removes the following two factors the House included in its version of the bill dealing with how independent contractor status was determined: 1) the level of the individual’s investment in equipment or tools required to perform the work, and (2) the individual’s opportunity for profit or loss. The Senate further removed a requirement that violation of the statute constituted revocation of the violator’s license, and disqualification of some violators from contracting with the state. It removes the exception for newspaper, shopping news and magazine distributors from the employment definition under the Unemployment Insurance statutes. Finally, the SCS removes the appropriations to DOR for administration and enforcement of the statute.
The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.
N.C. House and Senate Slated to Vote on Medicaid Reform Deal
The conference committee report for House Bill 372 — Medicaid Transformation and Reorganization — was reported into the House and Senate chambers. Under the new plan, Prepaid Health Plans (PHPs) will be responsible for the delivery of Medicaid services.
As originally proposed in the Senate’s reform plan, three PHPs will contract with the Division of Health Benefits and will serve recipients statewide. Additionally, the Division of Health Benefits could contract with up to 10 PLEs for regional contracts. Medicaid recipients will be able to choose their preferred plan, whether it is a CP or PLE, or a statewide or regional plan.
Under the new compromise plan DHHS will continue to have full authority to manage the Medicaid and NC Health Choice programs. A new division, however, will be created. The newly-created Division of Health Benefits will be responsible for implementing Medicaid reform, and will eventually take over the duties currently vested in the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA). Twelve months after capitated contracts begin, DMA will be eliminated.
The state’s current LME/MCOs will continue to manage all of the behavioral health services that they currently provide, for at least four years. After that time period, it is possible that behavioral health care could be turned over to the PHPs, if the legislature chooses to do so.
Once HB 372 becomes law, the Division of Health Benefits and a legislative oversight committee, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice, will both be created. Additionally, the new division will be responsible for submitting all necessary waivers and State Plan Amendments (SPAs) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is expected that the process to obtain all of the proper approval for necessary waivers and SPAs could take from 12 to 24 months. Eighteen months after the state receives approval, capitated contracts under PHPs will begin, and initial recipient enrollment must be complete.
It is expected that the House and Senate will both vote on the measure Tuesday, September 22. Governor McCrory has stated that he plans to sign the legislation.
|Tuesday, September 15, 2015|
|September 15, 2015 Legislative Update|
N.C. General Assembly Unveils State Budget Deal
On Monday afternoon, 76 days after the new fiscal year (FY) began, Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) held a press conference to unveil the details of the new $21.7 billion spending agreement. The budget and money report were published to the public around midnight last night.
With the current continuing resolution (CR) set to end at 11:59 p.m. Friday, September 18, both chambers plan to vote on the measure this week. Speaker Moore and Senator Berger stated at the press conference that they are hopeful that Governor Pat McCrory will sign the budget into law before the CR deadline passes.
The Senate is scheduled to take their first vote on the budget today, Tuesday, September 15, with the final vote on the budget taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, September 16. House rules require the chamber to release the document to the public 72 hours before taking a vote. The chamber plans to vote on the measure Thursday, September 17, followed by a final vote Friday, September 18. Speaker Moore stated Monday that the chamber is considering taking the final vote on the budget early Friday morning, shortly after midnight. After receiving approval from both chambers, the budget will go to the governor’s desk for the final signature into law. Since the budget is a compromise between the House and Senate, amendments are prohibited.
Additionally, it is expected that the Legislature will be taking up the conference reports for House Bill 117 — NC Competes Act — and House Bill 372, the Medicaid reform bill, next week. The conference report for HB 117 is expected to include several other economic development policies, including details of the revised Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program.
Highlights of the budget include:
- Job Maintenance and Capital Development (JMAC) Fund
Funds at $6.9 million for 2015-2016 and $7.5 million for 2016-2017.
- Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) Program
Restructures the program to $57.9 million (15-16) and $71.7 million (16-17)
- OneNC Small Business Fund
$3 million in non-recurring funds.
- Corporate Income Tax
Continues the corporate income tax reduction trigger, forecasting a reduction to 3 percent in 2016.
- Single Sales Tax Factor
Phases single sales over three years beginning in 2016.
- Sales Tax
Expands the sales tax base for certain labor services with proceeds allotted to only certain rural counties.
- Personal Income Tax (PIT)
Reduces PIT from 5.75 percent to 5.499 percent in 2017; Increase the 2016 standard deduction by $500, totaling $15,500 for joint filers; Restores and expands tax deductions for medical expenses.
- Historic Preservation Tax Credit
Reinstates to a lesser degree the credit, which sunset at the end of 2014.
- Film & Entertainment Grant Fund
$30 million in non-recurring funds for 15-16 and 16-17.
- Renewable Energy Tax Credit
Sunsets in January 2016.
- Highway Trust Fund
Repeals the transfer of $216 million from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund.
- DMV Fees
Increases all DMV fees with revenues to be used toward funding additional Strategic Transportation Investment projects and DMV modernization.
- Road Funding
Additional $440 million
- Light Rail Projects
Caps the state funding for light rail projects at $500,000 per project.
- Turnpike Authority Projects
Increases the statewide cap for turnpike projects from nine to 11.
- Port Modernization
Additional $70 million
- Infrastructure Bond
Lays out the blueprint for the $2 billion infrastructure bond for capital projects.
- Teacher Assistants (TAs)
Fully funds TAs and requires those monies be used only for TAs.
- Classroom Sizes/Districts
Reduces class size in first grade to 1:16 teacher-student ratio in 2016; Allows the State Board of Education to consolidate county school districts that share a border; Establishes a new definition for low-performing schools and school districts and mandates implementation of improvement plans.
- Textbooks & Digital Learning
- Teacher Pay
Increases the starting teacher salary from $33,000 to $35,000
- Opportunity Scholarship Program
Provides an additional $14 million.
- Driver Education
Fully funds driver education, includes provisions for comprehensive data collection and a study of how to improve the program.
- School Connectivity Program
Funds the initiative to bring broadband and Wi-Fi to all public schools.
- UNC Enrollment Growth Reserve
Appropriates $31 million in recurring funds in 16-17 .
Funds in-state tuition for all veterans.
- Deferred Admission Program
Requires the UNC Systems and community colleges to collaborate in a study to establish a deferred admission program that will divert academically at-risk students into the community college system. Upon completion of an associate degree, the student receives guaranteed acceptance into a UNC system school.
- Western Governor’s University
Sets aside $2 million for the Western Governor’s University after the campus raises $5 million.
Increases tuition in the 2016 spring semester by $4.00/credit hour.
Establishes the Medicaid Transformation Fund, providing $225 million in funds over the biennium. This money is to be used transform the state’s Medicaid system from fee-for-service to a fully-capitated, managed care system.
- Hospitals & Charity
Requires hospitals to publicly post how much charity care they provide annually.
- Special Superior Court
Eliminates three special superior court judgeships.
Provides $2 million in recurring funds for expanded bed capacity for adjudicated juveniles in contracted and state-run facilities.
- Mental Health
Funds an additional 72 mental health beds at Central Prison, and includes another $5.6 million for mental health behavioral treatment units at eight prisons.
- Law Enforcement & Body Cameras
Offers $2.5 million in grants for body-worn cameras by local law enforcement agencies. Includes funds for cameras in highway patrol vehicles.
- Court Modernization
Provides funds for court modernization, including recurring funds for court information technology initiatives.
- Department of Military & Veteran Affairs
Establishes a new Department of Military & Veterans Affairs
- Department of Information Technology
Creates a new Department of Information Technology and transfers/consolidates from other agencies.
- State Aquariums, Parks & Zoos
Transfers the state aquariums, parks, and zoo from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to a newly-established Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in an effort to consolidate the management of state attractions under one department.
|Wednesday, September 9, 2015|
|September 9, 2015 Legislative Update|
Labor Day Brings Continued Budget Negotiations
The current continuing resolution (CR), the temporary state spending plan is set to expire on September 18 but House and Senate leadership remain optimistic that they won’t need another CR. Key budget leaders stayed through the holiday weekend to try to finalize negotiations. Senate and House leaders indicated yesterday that they were close to a finalized agreement, with only a few remaining items to finalize, such as drivers education.
Following any agreement, the legislative staff will need a couple days to finalize the bill before it can be introduced. Therefore, the earliest we could see the finalized bill would be Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Regardless of introduction, legislative rules prohibit a vote on appropriation conference reports until the third legislative day following the introduction of the report. That means the earliest a vote could be taken on the budget conference report would most likely be next week.
Governor Signs Uber Bill into Law
Last week the Charlotte Chamber hosted the Governor's bill signing of Senate Bill 541, Regulate Transportation Networks Companies. Upon signing into law, the Governor stated, “This is all about people’s independence and flexibility ... The more choice, the better. The consumer wins.” The bill requires transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft to buy insurance coverage for their drivers and passengers and perform nationwide criminal background checks on drivers.
The new law becomes effective October 1, 2015.
New Town/Municipality Caucus Formed
A new bipartisan caucus was formed last week in the General Assembly, the Town/Municipality Caucus. The caucus will be a joint caucus with both House and Senate members. The mission of the caucus is to “create an opportunity [and] open environment for legislators with municipal experience to offer education about the State-Municipal partnership and to exchange information and ideas about legislation that will impact local government.” The caucus hopes to bring greater awareness to how legislation will affect local governments.
The Senate caucus leaders will be Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) and Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg). House caucus leaders are Rep. Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) and Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover).
Presidential Primary Date
Last week the House failed to concur to the Senate’s changes to House Bill 373, 2016 Presidential Primary. The bill would have established policies for a March 15, 2016 primary date for 2016 presidential candidates only. The House voted 104-0 to fail to concur.
House Republicans are exploring the possibility of holding all primary elections March 15, 2016. Although this change is estimated to save $4-$6 million, by not holding a second primary election date in May 2016, some legislative members remain skeptical of the change. Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake) stated the new voter ID law would be in effect for those primary elections and he believes moving the date to March will hinder preparations for the new voter ID law.
The bill now goes to conference committee, neither the House nor the Senate have appointed conference committee members yet.
|Monday, August 31, 2015|
|August 31, 2015 Legislative Update|
Senate Appoints Conferees on Economic Development Package
Over the last month, House Bill 117, NC Competes Act, passed the Senate chamber, but was rejected by the House, 111-2, in a motion not to concur with the Senate changes. The vote outcome was due largely to the Senate’s addition to a change in the local option sales tax (LOST) distribution formula.
The Charlotte Chamber continues to support the components of House Bill 117 pertaining to economic development: JDIG, One NC and jet fuel tax exemption. We remain opposed to the proposed redistribution of local sales tax revenues.
Last week, one week after the House appointed conferees, the Senate appointed its conferees for HB 117. Chairing the conference committee for the Senate is Majority Leader Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow). Other Senate conferees include: Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Richmond), Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), Sen. Tamara Barringer (R-Wake), Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), and Sen. Tommy Tucker (R-Union). Four Democrats that voted in favor of HB 117, are also on the conference committee: Sen. Floyd McKissick, Jr. (D-Durham), Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Edgecombe), Sen. Don Davis (D-Greene), and Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke).
The conferees will try to work out differences between the House and Senate proposals. One of the biggest issues in the bill is the Senate’s proposal to change the LOST distribution formula. The Senate’s proposal would change the current formula (75% of the tax being distributed by point of collection and 25% of the tax being distributed per capita), to a 50/50 split, half to be distributed by point of collection and half to be distributed per capita.
The House remains adamantly opposed to changing the LOST distribution formula. The Speaker went on record last week stating that the House Republican caucus voted overwhelmingly against the redistribution of LOST.
Negotiations remain contentious and it remains uncertain as to how comprehensive economic development policies will pan out, either through HB117 or the budget.
Budget Negotiations Continue…
As previously reported, the House and Senate agreed to spend a total of $21.735 billion in the budget. Last week the General Assembly further agreed to subcommittee spending targets as they continue to negotiate a final budget.
(public schools, University of North Carolina System, community colleges): $12.05 billion
- Health and Human Services
(Medicaid, public health, mental health): $5.12 billion
- Justice and Public Safety
(courts, prisons, State Bureau of Investigation): $2.44 billion
- Natural and Economic Resources
(commerce, environment, agriculture): $372 million
- General Government
(Dept. of Cultural Resources, Office of the State Auditor, Dept. of Revenue, other state agencies): $425 million
- Debt service: $715 million
- Additional salary and benefits: $349 million
- Reserve to handle unresolved budget matters: $121 million
- Capital projects: $30 million
There was significant movement last week on budget negotiations, but the chambers still seem to be in disagreement about big issues. House and Senate leadership met late last week with Gov. Pat McCrory at the Executive Mansion, but no new agreements were reported as a result of the meeting. Subcommittee chairs are now working on their budget areas while leadership continues to negotiate items such as the redistribution of the local option sales tax, economic development tools, teacher assistants, driver’s education, and Medicaid reform.
The House and Senate have less than three weeks to work out their budget differences in order to meet the new continuing resolution deadline of 11:59 pm Friday, September 18.
Unemployment Insurance Bill Sent to the Governor
The Senate concurred to House changes to Senate Bill 15, Unemployment Insurance Law Changes last week. Only seven Senators voted against the bill.
The bill adds quarterly reporting requirements by the Division of Employment Security (the Division) to several Joint Legislative Oversight Committees, increases beneficiaries’ requirement to make two job contacts per week to five job contacts per week, requires the individual seeking benefits to present photo identification to the Division, limits the number of weeks an individual may receive benefits, changes the weekly benefit amounts, creates a Board of Review for the purpose of determining appeals, policies and procedures, makes changes to the limitations on suits or proceedings for unpaid contributions, and changes charges to the employer’s account to quarterly.
The bill now goes to the Governor.
Uber Bill Passes Final Legislative Hurdle
Last week, the House passed Senate Bill 541, Regulate Transportation Networks Companies. The bill requires transportation network companies, such as Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber, to buy insurance coverage for their drivers and passengers. The bill also requires the company to preform nationwide criminal background checks on drivers.
Uber publically endorsed the legislation, sending an email to its users on Thursday announcing the passage of SB 541. The email urged its users to “take a moment and join us in thanking bill sponsors Sen. Bill Rabon, Sen. Floyd B. McKissick, Jr., and Rep. Bill Brawley for standing up for your right to a safe, dependable, on-demand ride!”
The bill now goes to the Governor.